Following an informal meeting on Thursday between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Putin made clear that he would continue to provide all manner of military aid to Syria’s President Assad. Such aid would include completing delivery of the S-300 defense missiles ordered by Syria but temporarily delayed over payment issues. The S-300 radar system can simultaneously track up to 100 different targets and deploy as many as 12 missiles in retaliation inside five minutes.
Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.) quizzed General Martin Dempsey, chairman of Obama’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, about the dangers of such an action: “We can certainly say that Russia would have options to strike us in that theater in retaliation for us striking their ally.… [What would the United States do] if Russia decided to strike at us…?” Dempsey demurred, saying only that “it wouldn't be helpful in this setting to speculate about that.” But a retaliatory action of some sort by Russia is one possible consequence of a U.S. attack on Syria.
Another possible consequence came to light when the State Department intercepted an order from the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Qasem Soleimani, to Shiite militia groups operating in Iraq, telling them that that they must “be prepared to respond with force” if the United States does launch an attack on Syria. An attack on Syria would put the U.S. embassy in Iraq’s capital city, Baghdad, one of the largest American diplomatic facilities in the world, at severe risk. In addition, Iran’s fleet of small, fast, highly maneuverable, and dangerous water craft could target one or more of the American destroyers currently lying off the coast of Syria awaiting instructions from Washington. The U.S. military is taking precautions to aid in the evacuation of American diplomatic compounds in the area, and, according to the Wall Street Journal, has already begun “making preparations … for potential retaliation against U.S. embassies and other interests in the Middle East and North Africa.”
Some of those “interests” are located inside Israel, which has promised to retaliate against any attack mounted in response to Obama’s “punitive war” against Assad.
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